Having successfully produced a series of case studies about design in innovation for the KTN’s Design SIG earlier in the year, I was commissioned to create a report about Design & Data Visualisation for the KTN’s members. This report was based on an event that I spoke at in October 2013 at NESTA.
For the launch of the report I wrote about the publication for the KTN site and I was also invited to speak, on May 6th, at the Future Cities Catapult at a Cross-Catapult Design Group Meeting which was used for sharing new ideas across industry.
I spoke about how the report is an introduction to the crucial role of design in data visualisation and all the ways it can be used to better communicate information in this digital age. I highlighted a few of the contemporary data visualisation practitioners who are showcased in the report.
By presenting case studies of their work the Design SIG aims to stimulate thinking on how design and data visualisation can support innovation and deliver sustainable economic, social and environmental benefits.
Earlier this year Belgian company Plan C launched The Additive Toolbox to accompany The Additive Challenge, inviting the 3d printing industry to address a better future for people and planet in their creations.
I had a great experience designing the Toolbox with talented fellow designer Joana Casaca Lemos. We were commissioned by Forum for the Future who in turn were working with Plan C on the iMade project, which looks at additive manufacturing as the third industrial revolution. I just got my Additive Toolbox prototype in the post and I’m so delighted with how it all turned out.
Joana and I worked together to create the identity, graphics and physical form of the toolbox, including a poster, a set of postcards and a worksheet. These tools outline 6 making principles and 6 maker communities to guide designers, makers and manufacturers through the considerations of materials, production methods and life cycle for their products.
The toolbox was given out to anyone who entered the Additive Challenge. The latest news about the challengers in the competition can be found on the project site. As a designer it’s a pretty great to be asked to create a tool to help other designers and I’m excited to see who the finalists are in this competition.
I was kindly invited to speak about my work in September by Aidan Walker, curator of the Design Junction seminars. It’s always fun, if nerve wracking, to be asked to speak about what I’m doing with design storytelling and particularly with Creative Data.
I was especially pleased to be speaking at a mainstream London Design Festival event such as Design Junction, rather than a sustainability side show. I think it’s good news that curators like Aidan are programming a diverse range of speakers that use environmental design at the core of their work.
I was on stage alongside the NYC design firm UHURU who make beautiful furniture and interiors from sustainably sources materials. I think our different approaches contrasted nicely on the common theme of social and environmental awareness.
Lucy Rose and I, in the guise of our Creative Data partnership, had great fun designing and hosting the ‘Why Is Science Beautiful?’ workshop at the British Library this week. We created the event for the Met Office in the context of the ‘Beautiful Science’ exhibition, currently on show in the library.
This experimental one-day workshop on Monday 12th May was co-hosted by the British Library, the Met Office and Creative Data. The event invited attendees (15 Met Office scientists and 15 selected creatives) to take an exploratory journey into the creative potential of data and scientific practice.
Here’s the Storify of the event, which collates all the social media captures of the day.
This week I did the fastest design installation of my life. I was commissioned by the foresight and innovation agency Your Future to design a space for their one-day workshop on natural health for their client. The location was the beautiful Kew Gardens and I took inspiration from the botanical nature of the setting.
With the help of my collaborator Lucy Rose I created the The Natural Health Breakfast Exploratorium, which included a ‘Kitchen Garden’ room where the client attendees could gather, eat and make their final presentations. Next door we created a ‘Library Lab’, where the attendees could work in their break out groups through the day.
This speedy installation, done in just two hours, was mostly an exercise in ‘dressing the set’ so to speak, but I did have fun creating bespoke botanical explorers’ workbooks and then recreating them as enormous working presentation boards for the actual workshop.
I’m delighted to say that Elio Studio is featured in a new book by Aaris Sherin called Sustainable Thinking. My good friend and collaborator Chris Haughton is also featured for his amazing fair trade work with Node rugs.
During the writing of the book, Chris very kindly suggested that Aaris speak to me about my design storytelling work with Elio Studio. And so it came to pass that Chris and I are case study neighbours in this excellent book on design thinking and management in sustainability, published by Bloomsbury.
The case study on Elio Studio is a full six pages long (whoop!) and features several of our projects, including The Butterfly Effect and One Planet Living. You can find the link to a PDF of the case study below, but here is a quick excerpt.
‘Collaboration is important because the issues surrounding sustainable innovation are complex,’ says Oppenheim. To create the most relevant solutions, she suggests that ‘a networked systems approach is needed and the best way to do that is to leave our disciplinary silos and cross pollinate with others.’ Not every designer is suited to working in multidisciplinary, less-defined situations. Connectors, translators and managers are needed. To that end, Oppenheim acts like a ringmaster for Elio Studio. Different types of projects require distinct expertise and the number of people working on a job will vary depending on a project’s scope, budget and the skill sets needed to produce the intended outputs.
You can buy the book on Amazon or direct from Bloomsbury.
As well as Chris Haughton and Elio Studio, Sustainable Thinking features other brilliant people who have inspired me over the years including Valerie Casey of The Designers Accord, Safia Minney of People Tree, Emily Pilloton of Project H Design and Duke Stump of The North Star Manifesto and Do Lectures USA – it’s choca block with brilliant design ideas to make the world a better place.
Jonathan Chapman, Course Leader MA Sustainable Design, University of Brighton – says this about it:
“Sustainable Thinking jettisons the tired rhetoric of sustainable design debate; boldly repositioning design-thinkers of all disciplines at the creative and intellectual heart of our search for solutions.”
At the end of August I travelled to Copenhagen and Malmö to attend The Conference – a five day extravaganza of workshops, talks and excursions all hosted by Media Evolution. The title of the event was ‘Power, Disruption and Lies’, which propelled a dramatic deep dive into social and antisocial behaviours around media and technology.
The photo above is of the wonderful Ruth Daniels of Un-Convention. She made the most of the rapturous conference crowd by executing her first ever stage dive. As you can see, she pulled it off in style.
You can watch all the talks online and I wrote two pieces for Cool Hunting on the highlights:
The Conference, Part One – “Power, Disruption and Lies” in Malmö at Scandinavia’s largest technology and innovation conference, presented by Media Evolution
The Conference, Part Two – Phones with feelings, our multiple media personalities and more at Scandinavia’s largest technology and innovation conference
At the end of May I was invited to join a group of designers on a tour of a pulp and paper mill in France, owned by paper manufacturer Arjowiggins. Excited to learn more about another type of material manufacturing, I went along to document the visit for The Great Recovery Project.
It was a fascinating couple of days getting an insider view of how recycled paper is made. We witnessed every step for the process, from the moment the post-consumer waste arrives at the pulp factory, to the point where the freshly recycled paper is packaged up and piled high, ready to ship off the UK and around Europe.
You read more about the experience and see my photographs over on The Great Recovery site, where I wrote a blog post about the tour. The photographs are particularly interesting as I got a rare permission to photograph inside both factories, which a visitor has never been allowed to do before.
I also produced some accompanying interviews, with insights from both the visiting designers and our hosts, on the importance of learning about materials.
You can read Siôn Whellens’ account of the trip on the Calverts’ website. It is thanks to Siôn, who brought everyone together, that we all got to learn more about paper manufacturing. Thanks must also go to Julian Long and Angela DeVorchik of Arjowiggins Graphic who were our wonderful hosts.
At the end of April I saw a tweet from Jeremy Till, now head of Central St Martins, that was essentially a cry for creative help. He needed a designer and curator for an exhibition about his SCIBE (Scarcity and Creativity In The Built Environment) research project. The brief was challenging: the original curator had pulled out at the last minute due to ill health and suddenly there was only four weeks to produce a show about a three year research project. It sounded like just the kind of crazy job I like. Sensibly Jeremy decided this wasn’t a job for one person and riding to the rescue alongside me came the amazing Crystal Bennes, curator, writer, chef and wonder woman.
Crystal and I made quite a team and right from the start got on like the proverbial house on fire. Our first idea was that this exhibition, which was to be located in Bromley-by-Bow, should be a street festival involving the local Bangladeshi community that had been part of the SCIBE community engagement. However after spending two of the four weeks trying and failing to get permission from Tower Hamlets to put on this ‘Scarcity Festival’, we threw in the towel on that idea. In the end we plumped for the first choice venue, it being the only choice at this stage and made with the most of what we had, in the spirit of the assignment. Along the way we had great help from SCIBE team members Jon Goodbun, Deljana Iossifova and Dougald Hine, as well from Flora Bowden of the Seed Foundation.
The result was the Sightlines Exhibition in the Mayor’s Parlour in Bromley-by-Bow. You can see images of the exhibition read more about here on its design page.